By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
On January 29, 2020, the federal government reported its latest quality ratings for acute care hospitals in the United States. Kern Valley Hospital (KVHD) just learned it has earned an overall quality rating higher than nearly all other hospitals in Kern County.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) collects data from each of the 4,500 Medicare-certified acute inpatient hospitals nationwide, then summarizes it into a single 1- to 5-star quality rating so patients can compare each hospital’s performance side-by-side with others. KVHD received an overall quality rating of three stars out of five. How does that compare to the ratings of the many other hospitals in Bakersfield which similarly operate both acute inpatient beds and emergency rooms?
KVHD was the highest-rated of these hospitals in Kern County, along with Bakersfield Heart Hospital which was also 3-star rated. Bakersfield Memorial and Adventist Health Bakersfield were rated lower at two stars. Kern Medical Center and Mercy Hospital Downtown were rated lowest at one star.
According to the CMS report, the two other Critical Access Hospitals in rural areas most similar to KVHD, Adventist Health Tehachapi and Ridgecrest Regional, did not receive ratings because there were “too few measures or measure groups reported to calculate a star rating…” As a small hospital, KVHD also had a low amount of patient data and measures, but enough data was reported to generate an overall rating in the last CMS report cycle.
KVHD CEO Tim McGlew was pleased to announce the new rating information to the Board of Directors at its meeting on February 5. Board Chairman Ross Elliott stated, “I’m excited about this star rating for the hospital. It speaks volumes that this wonderful hospital and the people who run it are being validated by the federal government. Thank you to all the staff and everyone who contributes to it; you should all be applauded.”
Also at this Board meeting, CFO Chet Beedle discussed December 2019 financial performance as having double the daily census for acute inpatient beds compared to December 2018. Emergency room visits were also higher than last year. The long term care Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) census was down; McGlew said new residents were in the process of being admitted.
Chief Nursing Officer Mark Gordon stated that the KVHD in-house Certified Nursing Assistant training course is expected to begin the first week in March with eight students. Graduates will help fill staffing needs at the SNF.
Board members discussed the percentage amount to designate for KVHD’s matching contribution to the employee pension plan. Its past contribution rate matched employee contributions dollar for dollar up to 4 percent of wages. Upon questioning, Beedle answered that the average rate of similar hospitals nationwide is about 3 percent. The Board of Directors voted to continue the 4 percent match for the next six month period.
KVHD is a provider for the health insurance plan Brand New Day through Universal Care. KVHD was going to terminate the contract due to the insurer’s lack of payment of KVHD medical claims. Because many in the community use this insurance plan, KVHD is continuing to see Brand New Day patients while the insurer works through its invoice backlog.
KVHD encourages comments and suggestions from the community, so Board members discussed the most appropriate channels for this communication. Posts made on general Facebook groups won’t get to the proper KVHD staff, they said, so it would be best to use the KVHD Facebook page or the kvhd.org website. Its webpages list Board member and administrative staff responsibilities so that letters, emails, and calls can be directed to the proper person for action.
The community is encouraged to attend and participate in the regular and committee meetings of the Board of Directors; meeting schedules are listed on kvhd.org. Monthly meetings of the full Board are held on the first Wednesday of every month. The next regular meeting will be held on March 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room.